Monday, 04 December 2006 21:51

Samsung Ultra Messaging i600 is less than half an inch thick

Well, 0.464 inches to be precise. Ever since the Motorola RAZR, thin has been the in-trend since 2005 with 2007 set to see some of the slimmest phones ever.

Samsung’s messaging marvel, the i600, is their second Windows Mobile based phone to come with HSDPA and is the ‘world’s thinnest’ messaging phone with a few cool goodies up its sleeve to set it apart from the rest and Samsung’s own competing models.

Sadly, we have no idea when this phone will be available in Australia, with Asia and Europe slated to get it first in Q1 2007. In Australia, the iCN-320 model is available, with the Samsung Blackjack (the i607) only available in the US.

All three are remarkably similar phones, but the i600 has something the other two don’t – a front mounted camera for video calls, in addition to a 1.3 megapixel camera on the back, and it comes with 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi, a boon for those in home or office environments equipped with Wi-Fi so you can check email, visit websites, stream audio or video and simply do more online without needing to pay lots of extra costs for bandwidth.

At an amazing 99 grams (or 3.5 ounces), it’s powered by Microsoft’s Windows Mobile 5.0 (even though Windows Mobile 6.0 was launched on November 1), has a nice 2.3-inch screen, supports quad-band GSM and supports EDGE, 3G UMTS and 3.5G HSDPA for super speedy downloads to your phone when you’re in an HSDPA service area.

But with HSDPA, which gives users the ability to download content from speeds of 550k to around 1.8Mbps, is not only meant to give you ADSL-like speeds, but is growing in popularity with phone carriers around the world who are upgrading their cellular networks to give users faster mobile speeds than ever.

Thankfully the Bluetooth module inside the i600 supports A2DP for wireless stereo streaming of music to Bluetooth headphones – why needs to plug actual wired headphones in anymore?

It also as a MicroSD card slot, and with 1Gb and 2Gb cards so inexpensive these days, it’s definitely worth getting a MicroSD card if your phone supports it so you don’t have to buy an iPod if you don’t want to – the i600 is a capable media player and with a vast wealth of Windows Mobile software already out there to expand the capability of your new phone.

Of course the i600 also supports Microsoft’s ‘Push Mail’ feature in Exchange will allows users to receive emails automatically without needing to log into anything first. That’s a good move on Microsoft’s part as they need all the ammo they can get and give to their hardware/handset manufacturers in an attempt to crush the Blackberry into squishy black juice.

Interestingly, the not only has an RSS reader, but also officially supports podcasts which is great for the podcast loving crowd.

The i600 was announced at the International Telecommunications Union’s (ITU’s) conference which is still underway in Hong Kong. It was also joined by the Ultra Music F300 and the Ultra Video F500.

The F300 looks like a cross between a phone and an mp3 player, while the F500 is a phone with built-in digital TV tuner, a nifty ‘stand’ that is made from the keypad which turns separately from the main screen, can play DiVX movies and has over 400Mb of internal storage.

The only weird, but necesary thing about it, is a telescoping antenna that extends upwards to ensure you are getting the best signal. How long before one of those gets broken? I remember accidentally breaking my first antenna many years ago and dreading what my parents would have to say about it. From memory I got off pretty lightly.

Samsung is upping the ante to all competitors, include Apple with the iPod, Sony Ericsson with the Walkman phones, Nokia with their N-Series, Motorola with the new KRZR phone and LG who have a range of nifty designs all their own.

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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